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1.  DHEAS Levels and Mortality in Disabled Older Women: The Women’s Health and Aging Study I 
Background
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is an endogenously produced sex steroid that has been hypothesized to have anti-aging effects. Low DHEAS levels are associated with mortality in older men, but the relationship between DHEAS levels and mortality in women is not clearly defined.
Methods
The relationship between serum DHEAS level and 5-year mortality was analyzed in a cohort of 539 disabled women aged 65–100 years enrolled in the Women’s Health and Aging Study I (WHAS I). Using Cox proportional hazard models, we calculated multivariate-adjusted mortality risks by DHEAS quartiles and by DHEAS continuously, allowing for a nonlinear relationship. We also examined cause-specific mortality.
Results
We found a U-shaped relationship between DHEAS level and mortality. After adjusting for multiple covariates, women in the top and bottom DHEAS quartiles had a more than 2-fold higher 5-year mortality than did those in the middle quartiles (hazard ratio, 2.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–3.98 for the top quartile and 2.05; 95% CI, 1.27–3.32 for the bottom quartile, each compared to the third quartile). Women with higher DHEAS levels tended to have greater cancer mortality, whereas those with lower DHEAS tended to have greater cardiovascular mortality.
Conclusion
Disabled older women with either low or high levels of DHEAS are at greater risk for death than are those with intermediate levels. More research is needed to determine if targeted dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation would provide clinical benefit to disabled older women.
PMCID: PMC2645634  PMID: 16960027
2.  Cardiovascular Disease Is Associated with Greater Incident Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Decline in the Oldest Old: The Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars Study 
OBJECTIVES
To describe cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and change in DHEAS with age.
DESIGN
Longitudinal cohort study.
SETTING
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
PARTICIPANTS
Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars study participants assessed in 2005/06 (N =989, mean age 85.2, 63.5% women, 16.5% African American).
MEASUREMENTS
Health characteristics were assessed in 2005/06 according to DHEAS level, mean DHEAS and DHEAS change across age categories were tested, and linear and logistic regression was used to identify factors present in 1996/97 associated with continuous and categorical DHEAS change.
RESULTS
Mean ± standard deviation DHEAS was 0.555 ± 0.414 μg/mL in 1996/97 and 0.482 ± 0.449 μg/mL in 2005/06 for women and 0.845 ± 0.520 μg/mL in 1996/97 and 0.658 ± 0.516 μg/mL in 2005/06 for men. In 2005/06, DHEAS was lower in women and subjects with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic pulmonary disease and higher for African Americans and subjects with hypertension and high cholesterol. Mean DHEAS change was greater in men (− 0.200 μg/mL) than in women (− 0.078 μg/mL) (P<.001). Each 1-year increase in age attenuated the effect of male sex by 0.01 μg/mL (P =.009), abolishing the sex difference in DHEAS change by age 79. Presence of CVD before the study period was associated with greater absolute DHEAS change (β = − 0.04 μg/mL, P =.04) and with the fourth quartile of DHEAS change versus the first to third quartiles (odds ratio =1.46, 95% confidence interval =1.03–2.05).
CONCLUSION
DHEAS change continues into very old age, is not homogenous, is affected by sex, and is associated with prevalent CVD. Future studies should investigate factors that might accelerate DHEAS decline.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.02724.x
PMCID: PMC2880808  PMID: 20163485
dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; cardiovascular disease; gender; aging
3.  Concurrent Change in Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate and Functional Performance in the Oldest Old: Results From the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars Study 
Introduction.
The correlation between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) decline and age led to the hypothesis that DHEAS might be a marker of primary aging, though conflicting data from observational studies of mortality do not support this. We evaluated concurrent DHEAS and functional decline in a very old cohort to test if DHEAS change tracks with functional change during aging.
Methods.
DHEAS and functional performance (gait speed, grip strength, Modified Mini-Mental State Examination [3MSE] score, and digit symbol substitution test [DSST] score) were measured in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006 in 989 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars study (mean age 85.2 years in 2005–2006, 63.5% women and 16.5% African American). We used multivariable linear regression to test the association of DHEAS decline with functional decline.
Results.
After adjustment, each standard deviation decrease in DHEAS was associated with greater declines in gait speed (0.12 m/s, p = .01), grip strength (0.09 kg, p = .03), 3MSE score (0.13 points, p < .001), and DSST score (0.14 points, p = .001) in women only. Additional adjustment for baseline DHEAS attenuated the association with grip strength but did not alter other estimates appreciably, and baseline DHEAS was unassociated with functional decline.
Conclusions.
In this cohort of very old individuals, DHEAS decline tracked with declines in gait speed, 3MSE score, and DSST score, but not grip strength, in women independent of baseline DHEAS level. DHEAS decline might be a marker for age-associated performance decline, but its relevance is specific to women.
doi:10.1093/gerona/glq072
PMCID: PMC2920580  PMID: 20466773
Aging; Biomarker; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Function
4.  Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation on bone mineral density, bone markers, and body composition in older adults 
Summary
We present results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to examine the effect of 50 mg daily oral DHEA supplementation for one year on bone mineral density (BMD), bone metabolism and body composition in 225 healthy adults aged 55 to 85 years.
Introduction
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels decline dramatically with age, concurrent with the onset of osteoporosis, suggesting a role for DHEA supplementation in preventing age-related bone loss.
Methods
We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to examine the effect of 50 mg daily oral DHEA supplementation for one year on bone mineral density (BMD), bone metabolism and body composition in 225 healthy adults aged 55 to 85 years.
Results
DHEA treatment increased serum DHEA and DHEA sulfate levels to concentrations seen in young adults. Testosterone, estradiol and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels increased in women (all p<0.001), but not men, receiving DHEA. Serum C-terminal telopeptide of type-1 collagen levels decreased in women (p=0.03), but not men, whereas bone-specific alkaline phosphatase levels were not significantly altered in either sex. After 12 months, there was a positive effect of DHEA on lumbar spine BMD in women (p=0.03), but no effect was observed for hip, femoral neck or total body BMD, and no significant changes were observed at any site among men. Body composition was not affected by DHEA treatment in either sex.
Conclusion
Among older healthy adults, daily administration of 50 mg of DHEA has a modest and selective beneficial effect on BMD and bone resorption in women, but provides no bone benefit for men.
doi:10.1007/s00198-007-0520-z
PMCID: PMC2435090  PMID: 18084691
Body composition; Bone metabolism; Bone mineral density (BMD); Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels; Placebo-controlled trial; Testosterone
5.  Low dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate is associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke among women 
Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation  2013;44(7):10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.000485.
Background and Purpose
Previous research suggests greater risk of coronary heart disease with lower levels of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). No studies have examined the association between DHEAS and risk for ischemic stroke. DHEAS may influence ischemic stroke risk through atherosclerotic related mechanisms (endothelial function and smooth muscle cell proliferation) or insulin resistance.
Methods
Between 1989-1990, 32,826 women without prior stroke in the Nurses’ Health Study, an observational cohort, provided blood samples and were followed for cardiovascular events. Among this sample, using a nested-case control design, 461 ischemic strokes confirmed by medical records through 2006. Cases were matched to controls free of stroke at the time of the index case and by age, ancestry, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, smoking status and date of sample collection. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was utilized.
Results
Median DHEAS levels did not differ between cases (median=58.7) and controls (median=66.0; p-value=0.10). Conditional on matching factors, the lowest DHEAS quartile exhibited a relative risk (RR) of 1.30 for ischemic stroke (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.88-1.94), compared with the highest quartile and marginally unchanged when adjusted for confounders (RR=1.33; 95%CI: 0.87-2.02). When modeled as a binary variable dichotomized at the lowest quartile, women with low DHEAS (≤the lowest quartile) had a significantly increased multivariable adjusted risk of ischemic stroke compared to those with higher levels (RR=1.41; 95%CI: 1.03-1.92).
Conclusions
Lower DHEAS levels were associated with a greater risk of ischemic stroke, even after adjustment for potential confounders. These novel observations warrant confirmation in other populations.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.000485
PMCID: PMC3811081  PMID: 23704104
Ischemic stroke; dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
6.  Sex differences in the relationship between DHEAS and health 
Experimental gerontology  2007;42(10):979-987.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate form (DHEAS) have been the focus of considerable publicity because of their demonstrated associations with a broad range of health outcomes. Yet, knowledge about the effects of endogenous DHEA(S) on health in humans is limited and often inconclusive, largely because few of the studies have been based on prospective surveys of population-representative samples. This analysis uses a national longitudinal survey in Taiwan to investigate whether DHEAS is associated with subsequent changes (2000–2003) in functional limitations, cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms, and global self-rated health. Multivariate regression models based on this older Taiwanese sample show that among men, lower levels of DHEAS are related to declines in mobility and self-assessed health status and increases in depressive symptoms, while both low and very high levels of DHEAS are associated with poor cognitive function. There are no significant associations among women. These findings differ from those in a previous cross-sectional analysis based on the Taiwan study and underscore the importance of using prospective data to examine the effects of DHEAS on health. The evidence based on this and other longitudinal studies suggests that endogenous DHEAS is related to health outcomes for men, but not women, in both Western and non-Western populations.
doi:10.1016/j.exger.2007.05.005
PMCID: PMC2968710  PMID: 17604586
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Health; Mental Health; Longitudinal Survey; Aged; Taiwan
7.  Higher DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate) Levels are Associated with Depressive Symptoms during the Menopausal Transition: Results from the PENN Ovarian Aging Study 
Archives of women's mental health  2011;14(5):375-382.
Background
The influence of sex hormones on mood during menopause has been the subject of ongoing investigation. Because dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels have been associated with several indicators of health outcomes associated with healthy aging, this PENN Ovarian Aging study (POAS) investigation was undertaken to determine the relationship between DHEA-S levels and both depressive symptoms and major depression during the transition through menopause. The original report revealed an unexpected positive correlation between DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) levels and depressive symptoms in the cohort at baseline. To determine whether the positive association of DHEA-S levels and depression persists in a longitudinal analysis, the cohort was studied over 11 years.
Methods
Longitudinal cohort study with 11 assessments during an 11 year interval in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Participants: A randomly identified, population-based sample of 436 African American and Caucasian premenopausal women aged 35 to 47 years at enrollment. Outcome Measures: Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score and standardized diagnosis of major depression.
Results
In a multivariable model, DHEA-S levels were positively associated with depressive symptoms, when adjusted for age, menopausal stage, race, smoking status and body mass index. There was no relationship between DHEA-S levels and a diagnosis of major depression.
Conclusions
DHEA-S levels were positively associated with depressive symptoms and not with major depression during the menopausal transition.
doi:10.1007/s00737-011-0231-5
PMCID: PMC3690802  PMID: 21773816
menopausal transition; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; depressive symptoms; major depression; longitudinal cohort
8.  Enhancement of Cognitive and Electrophysiological Measures of Hippocampal Functioning in Rats by a Low, But Not High, Dose of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEAS) 
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a steroid hornone that is synthesized, de novo, in the brain. Endogenous DHEAS levels correlate with the quality of mental and physical health, where the highest levels of DHEAS occur in healthy young adults and reduced levels of DHEAS are found with advanced age, disease, or extreme stress. DHEAS supplementation, therefore, may serve as a therapeutic agent against a broad range of maladies. This paper summarizes laboratory findings on dose-response relationships between DHEAS and cognitive and electrophysiological measures of hippocampal functioning. It was found that a low, but not a high, dose of DHEAS enhanced hippocampal primed burst potentiation (a physiological model of memory) as well as spatial (hippocampal-dependent) memory in rats. This complex dose-response function of DHEAS effects on the brain and memory may contribute toward the inconsistent findings that have been obtained by other investigators in studies on DHEAS administration in people.
doi:10.1080/15401420490900290
PMCID: PMC2657507  PMID: 19330152
neurosteroid; dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEA; hippocampus; long-term potentiation; memory
9.  Administration of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Enhances Visual-Spatial Performance in Post-Menopausal Women 
Behavioral neuroscience  2011;125(5):742-752.
The current paper examines the effect of administering Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on visual-spatial performance in post-menopausal women (N=24, ages 55-80). The concurrent reduction of serum DHEA levels and visual-spatial performance in this population, coupled with the documented effects of DHEA’s androgenic metabolites on visual-spatial performance, suggest that DHEA administration may enhance visual-spatial performance. The current experiment used a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design in which 50 mg of oral DHEA was administered daily in the drug condition to explore this hypothesis. Performance on the Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification, Same-Different Judgment, and Visual Search tasks and serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone, estrone and cortisol were measured in the DHEA and placebo conditions. In contrast to prior experiments using the current methodology that did not demonstrate effects of DHEA administration on episodic and short-term memory tasks, the current experiment demonstrated large beneficial effects of DHEA administration on Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification and Same-Different Judgment. Moreover, DHEA administration enhanced serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone and estrone, and regression analyses demonstrated that levels of DHEA and its metabolites were positively related to cognitive performance on the visual-spatial tasks in the DHEA condition
doi:10.1037/a0025151
PMCID: PMC3715689  PMID: 21942436
Dehydroepiadrosterone (DHEA); post-menopausal women; cognition; visual-spatial tasks; androgens
10.  Dynamics of Adrenal Steroids Are Related to Variations in Th1 and Treg Populations during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in HIV Positive Persons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33061.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent cause of illness and death from an infectious agent, and its interaction with HIV has devastating effects. We determined plasma levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its circulating form DHEA-suphate (DHEA-s) and cortisol in different stages of M. tuberculosis infection, and explored their role on the Th1 and Treg populations during different scenarios of HIV-TB coinfection, including the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), a condition related to antiretroviral treatment. DHEA levels were diminished in HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients compared to healthy donors (HD), HIV+ individuals and HIV+ individuals with latent TB (HIV-LTB), whereas dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-s) levels were markedly diminished in HIV-TB IRIS individuals. HIV-TB and IRIS patients presented a cortisol/DHEA ratio significantly higher than HIV+, HIV-LTB and HD individuals. A positive correlation was observed between DHEA-s and CD4 count among HIV-TB individuals. Conversely, cortisol plasma level inversely correlated with CD4 count within HIV-TB individuals. M. tuberculosis-specific Th1 lymphocyte count was increased after culturing PBMC from HIV-TB individuals in presence of DHEA. We observed an inverse correlation between DHEA-s plasma level and Treg frequency in co-infected individuals, and CD4+FoxP3+ Treg frequency was increased in HIV-TB and IRIS patients compared to other groups. Strikingly, we observed a prominent CD4+CD25-FoxP3+ population across HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients, which frequency correlated with DHEA plasma level. Finally, DHEA treatment negatively regulated FoxP3 expression without altering Treg frequency in co-infected patients. These data suggest an enhancing role for DHEA in the immune response against M. tuberculosis during HIV-TB coinfection and IRIS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033061
PMCID: PMC3303789  PMID: 22431997
11.  Dehydroepiandrosterone and age-related cognitive decline 
Age  2009;32(1):61-67.
In humans the circulating concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) decrease markedly during aging, and have been implicated in age-associated cognitive decline. This has led to the hypothesis that DHEA supplementation during aging may improve memory. In rodents, a cognitive anti-aging effect of DHEA and DHEAS has been observed but it is unclear whether this effect is mediated indirectly through conversion of these steroids to estradiol. Moreover, despite the demonstration of correlations between endogenous DHEA concentrations and cognitive ability in certain human patient populations, such correlations have yet to be convincingly demonstrated during normal human aging. This review highlights important differences between rodents and primates in terms of their circulating DHEA and DHEAS concentrations, and suggests that age-related changes within the human DHEA metabolic pathway may contribute to the relative inefficacy of DHEA replacement therapies in humans. The review also highlights the value of using nonhuman primates as a pragmatic animal model for testing the therapeutic potential of DHEA for age-associate cognitive decline in humans.
doi:10.1007/s11357-009-9113-4
PMCID: PMC2829637  PMID: 19711196
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Cognitive decline; Intracrinology; Neurosteroidogenesis
12.  Dehydroepiandrosterone and age-related cognitive decline 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2009;32(1):61-67.
In humans the circulating concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) decrease markedly during aging, and have been implicated in age-associated cognitive decline. This has led to the hypothesis that DHEA supplementation during aging may improve memory. In rodents, a cognitive anti-aging effect of DHEA and DHEAS has been observed but it is unclear whether this effect is mediated indirectly through conversion of these steroids to estradiol. Moreover, despite the demonstration of correlations between endogenous DHEA concentrations and cognitive ability in certain human patient populations, such correlations have yet to be convincingly demonstrated during normal human aging. This review highlights important differences between rodents and primates in terms of their circulating DHEA and DHEAS concentrations, and suggests that age-related changes within the human DHEA metabolic pathway may contribute to the relative inefficacy of DHEA replacement therapies in humans. The review also highlights the value of using nonhuman primates as a pragmatic animal model for testing the therapeutic potential of DHEA for age-associate cognitive decline in humans.
doi:10.1007/s11357-009-9113-4
PMCID: PMC2829637  PMID: 19711196
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Cognitive decline; Intracrinology; Neurosteroidogenesis
13.  Genetic and Environmental Effects on Diurnal Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Concentrations in Middle-Aged Men 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2011;36(10):1441-1452.
Summary
Background
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is important for its association with immune system function and health outcomes. The characterization of the genetic and environmental contributions to daily DHEAS concentrations is thus important for understanding the genetics of health and aging.
Methods
Saliva was collected from 783 middle-aged men (389 complete pairs and 5 unpaired twins) as part of the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging. Samples were taken at multiple specified time points across two non-consecutive days in the home and one day at the study sites. A twin modeling approach was used to estimate genetic and environmental contributions for time-specific and average DHEAS concentrations.
Results
There was a consistent diurnal pattern for DHEAS concentrations in both at-home and day-of-testing (DOT) measures, which was highest at awakening and decreased slightly throughout the day. Heritability estimates were significant for measures at 10am, 3pm and bedtime for the in-home days and at 10am and 3pm on the DOT, ranging between 0.37 and 0.46.
Conclusions
The significant heritability estimates later in the day reflect time-specific genetic effects for DHEAS, compared with prior twin and family designs studies which frequently used averaged morning-only measures. Additive genetic influences on DHEAS concentrations were consistent between at-home and DOT measures.
doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.03.018
PMCID: PMC3183407  PMID: 21570195
DHEAS; diurnal concentrations; genetics; twin study; aging; men
14.  Low Circulating Levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone in Histologically Advanced Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2008;47(2):484-492.
The biological basis of variability in histological progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is unknown. Dehydroepiandrosterone(DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone and has been shown to influence sensitivity to oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, and expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and procollagen messenger RNA. Our aim was to determine whether more histologically advanced NAFLD is associated with low circulating levels of DHEA. Serum samples were obtained prospectively at the time of liver biopsy in 439 patients with NAFLD (78 in an initial and 361 in validation cohorts) and in controls with cholestatic liver disease (n = 44). NAFLD was characterized as mild [simple steatosis or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with fibrosis stage 0–2] or advanced (NASH with fibrosis stage 3–4). Serum levels of sulfated DHEA (DHEA-S) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Patients with advanced NAFLD had lower plasma levels of DHEA-S than patients with mild NAFLD in both the initial (0.25 ± 0.07 versus 1.1 ± 0.09 µg/mL, P < 0.001) and validation cohorts (0.47 ± 0.06 versus 0.99 ± 0.04 µg/mL, P < 0.001). A “dose effect” of decreasing DHEA-S and incremental fibrosis stage was observed with a mean DHEA-S of 1.03 ± 0.05, 0.96 ± 0.07, 0.83 ± 0.11, 0.66 ± 0.11, and 0.35 ± 0.06 µg/mL for fibrosis stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. All patients in both cohorts in the advanced NAFLD group had low DHEA-S levels, with the majority in the hypoadrenal range. The association between DHEA-S and severity of NAFLD persisted after adjusting for age. A relationship between disease/fibrosis severity and DHEA-S levels was not seen in patients with cholestatic liver diseases.
Conclusion
More advanced NAFLD, as indicated by the presence of NASH with advanced fibrosis stage, is strongly associated with low circulating DHEA-S. These data provide novel evidence for relative DHEA-S deficiency in patients with histologically advanced NASH.
doi:10.1002/hep.22063
PMCID: PMC2906146  PMID: 18220286
15.  Dehydroepiandrosterone-dependent induction of peroxisomal proliferation can be reduced by aspartyl esterification without attenuation of inhibitory bone loss in ovariectomy animal model. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2000;15(5):533-541.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether esterification of dehydroepiandrosterone with aspartate (DHEA-aspartate) could reduce peroxisomal proliferation induced by DHEA itself, without loss of antiosteoporotic activity. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized, then DHEA or DHEA-aspartate was administered intraperitoneally at 0.34 mmol/kg BW 3 times a week for 8 weeks. DHEA-aspartate treatment in ovariectomized rats significantly increased trabeculae area in tibia as much as DHEA treatment. Urinary Ca excretion was not significantly increased by DHEA or DHEA-aspartate treatment in ovariectomized rats, while it was significantly increased by ovariectomy. Osteocalcin concentration and alkaline phosphatase activity in serum and cross linked N-telopeptide type I collagen level in urine were not significantly different between DHEA-aspartate and DHEA treated groups. DHEA-aspartate treatment significantly reduced liver weight and hepatic palmitoyl-coA oxidase activity compared to DHEA treatment. DHEA-aspartate treatment maintained a nearly normal morphology of peroxisomes, while DHEA treatment increased the number and size of peroxisomes in the liver. According to these results, it is concluded that DHEA-aspartate ester has an inhibitory effect on bone loss in ovariectomized rats with a marked reduction of hepatomegaly and peroxisomal proliferation compared to DHEA.
PMCID: PMC3054677  PMID: 11068990
16.  Measuring cortisol and DHEA in fingernails: A pilot study 
Purpose:
Abnormalities in both cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) have been reported in psychiatric disorders. Analysis of saliva, urine and blood cortisol and DHEA levels provides an index of hormone levels over a short time period. Unlike such conventional measures, fingernails incorporate endogenous hormones that passively diffuse to the nail matrix from capillaries during keratinization. This study piloted the measurement of cortisol and DHEA levels in fingernails as a potential measure of their accumulated secretion of steroid hormones over a prolonged time period.
Method:
Thirty-three university students (18–24 years) provided fingernail samples on two occasions over a school semester. The visits were scheduled so nail cortisol and DHEA levels were collected from periods when students might be under different levels of stress.
Results:
During the putatively stressful period, the nail samples showed a significant increase in the cortisol: DHEA ratio (P = 0.0002) due to a significant decrease in the DHEA levels (P = 0.004) and a numerical but not statistically significant increase in the cortisol levels (P = 0.256).
Discussion:
This pilot study showed that nails can be used to measure cortisol and DHEA, a measure which may reflect environmental stress. More work is required to further validate this technique which may prove useful in studies of both healthy individuals and patient groups.
PMCID: PMC2951060  PMID: 20169040
stress; nails; cortisol; DHEA
17.  Administration of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Increases Serum Levels of Androgens and Estrogens But Does Not Enhance Short-term Memory in Post-Menopausal Women 
Brain research  2012;1483:54-62.
The current study examines the effect of administering dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on short-term memory. This experiment used a double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over design to explore the effects of a four week regimen of 50 mg oral DHEA on performance on the digit span, verbal span, and Modified Sternberg (Oberauer) tasks. The results demonstrate that the current regimen of drug administration significantly increases serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone and estrone and substantially alters the patterns of correlations among the serum levels of these hormones. Despite this substantial change in the hormonal milieu, DHEA administration produced no beneficial effects on cognitive performance in the digit span, verbal span, or modified Sternberg paradigm tasks. Ancillary analyses of the relation between hormone levels and cognitive performance demonstrated a strong positive correlation between DHEA levels and performance on digit span forward/backward and verbal span forward in the placebo drug condition, but not in the DHEA condition. We interpret the juxtaposition of the null results of DHEA administration and the correlation of DHEA levels and performance in the placebo condition to indicate that the referenced correlations arise because a third variable (i.e., age) is associated with both performance and DHEA levels. Additional analyses supported this hypothesis.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2012.09.015
PMCID: PMC3488281  PMID: 22985672
Hormone Replacement Therapy; Aging; Short-term Memory; Cognition
18.  Perceived Stress at Work Is Associated with Lower Levels of DHEA-S 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72460.
Background
It is known that long-term psychosocial stress may cause or contribute to different diseases and symptoms and accelerate aging. One of the consequences of prolonged psychosocial stress may be a negative effect on the levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphated metabolite dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S). The aim of this study is to investigate whether levels of DHEA and DHEA-S differ in individuals who report perceived stress at work compared to individuals who report no perceived stress at work.
Methods
Morning fasting DHEA-S and DHEA levels were measured in serum in a non-stressed group (n = 40) and a stressed group (n = 41). DHEA and DHEA-S levels were compared between the groups using ANCOVA, controlling for age.
Results
The mean DHEA-S levels were 23% lower in the subjects who reported stress at work compared to the non-stressed group. Statistical analysis (ANCOVA) showed a significant difference in DHEA-S levels between the groups (p = 0.010). There was no difference in DHEA level between the groups.
Conclusions
This study indicates that stressed individual have markedly lower levels of DHEA-S. Given the important and beneficial functions of DHEA and DHEA-S, lower levels of DHEA-S may constitute one link between psychosocial stress, ill health and accelerated ageing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072460
PMCID: PMC3756071  PMID: 24015247
19.  Perimenopausal regulation of steroidogenesis in the nonhuman primate 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(7):1487.e1-1487.e13.
Human aging is characterized by a marked decrease in circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), hormonal changes associated with cognitive decline. Despite beneficial effects of DHEA supplementation in rodents, studies in elderly humans have generally failed to show cognitive improvement after treatment. In the present study we evaluate the effects of age and estradiol supplementation on expression of genes involved in the de novo synthesis of DHEA and its conversion to estradiol in the rhesus macaque hippocampus. Using RT-PCR we demonstrate the expression of genes associated with this synthesis in several areas of the rhesus brain. Furthermore, real-time PCR reveals an age-related attenuation of hippocampal expression level of the genes CYP17A1, STS, and 3BHSD1/2. Additionally, short-term administration of estradiol is associated with decreased expression of CYP17A1, STS, SULT2B1, and AROMATASE, consistent with a downregulation not only of estrogen synthesis from circulating DHEA, but also of de novo DHEA synthesis within the hippocampus. These findings suggest a decline in neurosteroidogenesis may account for the inefficacy of DHEA supplementation in elderly humans, and that central steroidogenesis may be a function of circulating hormones and menopausal status.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.05.004
PMCID: PMC3196783  PMID: 21683476
Aging; Dehydroepiandrosterone; Hormone replacement; Menopause; Neurosteroidogenesis
20.  Androstenediol Complements Estrogenic Bioactivity during the Menopausal Transition 
Menopause (New York, N.y.)  2012;19(6):650-657.
Objective
The perimenopausal increase in circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels during the menopausal transition (MT) is accompanied by other adrenal steroids that have the potential to alter the estrogen/androgen balance and explain the wide inter-woman range of estrogen-related symptoms experienced during the MT.
Methods
Annual serum samples from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which had previously been analyzed for immunoreactive estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), DHEAS and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), were selected based on DHEAS concentration and analyzed for immunoreactive and bioactive estrogens and androgens, including immunoreactive androstenedione (Adione), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 5-androstene-3β,17β-diol (androstenediol, Adiol).
Results
A two-fold increase in circulating Adione and T was found to rise in parallel with the rise in circulating DHEAS, while DHEA and Adiol concentrations rose seven to eightfold. Circulating Adiol, which has both androgenic and estrogenic biological activity, was significantly associated (p<0.02) with circulating estrogen bioactivity only when E2 concentrations were low and Adiol levels were high.
Conclusions
The wide range of circulating levels of Adiol and its contribution to total circulating estrogenicity during the MT is consistent with the observed inter-woman difference in symptoms at this time. Therefore, we conclude that Adiol contributes to circulating estrogenicity when E2 production falls at menopause and may contribute significantly to the endocrine changes experienced by midlife women.
doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31823df577
PMCID: PMC3366061  PMID: 22415563
Androstenediol; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
21.  The Steroid Metabolome of Adrenarche 
The Journal of endocrinology  2012;214(2):133-143.
Adrenarche is an endocrine developmental process whereby humans and select nonhuman primates increase adrenal output of a series of steroids, especially dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). The timing of adrenarche varies between primates, but in humans, serum levels of DHEAS are seen to increase around 6 years of age. This phenomenon corresponds with the development and expansion of the zona reticularis (ZR) of the adrenal gland. The physiological phenomena that trigger the onset of adrenarche are still unknown; however the biochemical pathways leading to this event have been elucidated in detail. There are numerous reviews examining the process of adrenarche, most of which, have focused on the changes within the adrenal as well as the phenotypic results of adrenarche. This article reviews the recent and past studies that show the breadth of changes in the circulating steroid metabolome that occurs during the process of adrenarche.
doi:10.1530/JOE-12-0183
PMCID: PMC4041616  PMID: 22715193
22.  Reduction of atherosclerosis by administration of dehydroepiandrosterone. A study in the hypercholesterolemic New Zealand white rabbit with aortic intimal injury. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1988;82(2):712-720.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an endogenous steroid that blocks carcinogenesis, retards aging, and exerts antiproliferative properties. In vitro, it is a potent inhibitor of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, the first committed step of the pentose phosphate pathway. In man, serum levels of DHEA and its sulfate peak in early adulthood and drop markedly with age. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that low levels of DHEA or its sulfate conjugate are linked to an increased risk of developing cancer or of death from cardiovascular disease. Like cancer, atherosclerosis is a proliferative process characterized by both initiation and promotion phases. This similarity provided a framework in which to study the antiatherogenic effects of DHEA. Rabbits were randomly assigned to four groups. Two groups of rabbits received aortic endothelial injury by balloon catheter and were fed a 2% cholesterol diet for 12 wk. DHEA, 0.5%, was incorporated into the diet of one group receiving the 2% cholesterol diet and endothelial injury and also into the diet of one of the control groups. Animals were killed after 12 wk and aortas, hearts, and livers were studied. Plasma samples were analyzed for total cholesterol, VLDL, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, DHEA, and DHEA-sulfate levels. The atherogenic insult resulted in severe atherosclerosis in animals not treated with DHEA. In those receiving DHEA there was an almost 50% reduction in plaque size (P = 0.006), inversely related to the serum level of DHEA attained. Fatty infiltration of the heart and liver were also markedly reduced. These beneficial actions were not attributable to differences in body weight gain, food intake, total plasma cholesterol or distribution of cholesterol among the VLDL, LDL, or HDL fractions. The results show that high levels of plasma DHEA inhibit the development of atherosclerosis and they provide an important experimental link to the epidemiologic studies correlating low DHEA-sulfate plasma levels with an enhanced risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Images
PMCID: PMC303568  PMID: 2969922
23.  Cortisol and DHEA-S are associated with startle potentiation during aversive conditioning in humans 
Psychopharmacology  2005;186(3):434-441.
Rationale
Fear conditioning reliably increases the startle reflex and stress hormones, yet very little is known about the effect of stress hormones on fear-potentiated startle. Cortisol and the sulfate ester of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S) are involved in stress and anxiety. Evidence suggests that low cortisol/DHEA-S ratio has a buffering effect on stress and anxiety in preclinical and clinical studies, suggesting that there may be a relationship between fear-potentiated startle and cortisol and DHEA-S activity.
Objective
The aim of the study was to examine whether there is a relationship between cortisol/DHEA-S ratio and fear-potentiated startle.
Methods
Thirty healthy subjects participated in a differential aversive conditioning experiment during which one of two stimuli (CS+) was paired with a shock, and the other was not (CS-). Conditioned responses were assessed with the startle reflex, defined as startle potentiation during CS+ compared to CS-. DHEA-S and cortisol levels were assayed from blood samples collected in both a baseline and an aversive conditioning session. Subjective state anxiety, arousal, and valence were assessed at various times during testing.
Results
Fear-potentiated startle was larger in individuals with high compared to low cortisol/DHEA-S ratio. Multiple regression analyses revealed that fear-potentiated startle was positively associated with cortisol and negatively associated with DHEA-S. There was no significant correlation between DHEA-S and cortisol levels.
Conclusion
These data suggest that cortisol and DHEA-S are involved in fear conditioning.
doi:10.1007/s00213-005-0124-2
PMCID: PMC2702204  PMID: 16052364
Fear conditioning; Fear-potentiated startle; Cortisol; DHEA-S; Stress; HPA
24.  The Association of Plasma Androgen Levels with Breast, Ovarian, and Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors Among Postmenopausal Women 
Although androgens may play an etiologic role in breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers, little is known about factors that influence circulating androgen levels. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis among 646 postmenopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study to examine associations between adult risk factors for cancer, including the Rosner/Colditz breast cancer risk score, and plasma levels of testosterone, free testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS). All analyses were adjusted for age, laboratory batch, and other cancer risk factors. Free testosterone levels were 79% higher among women with a BMI of ≥30 vs. <22 kg/m2 (p-trend<0.01) and 25% higher among women with a waist circumference of >89 vs. ≤ 74 cm (p-trend=0.02). Consuming >30 grams of alcohol a day vs. none was associated with a 31% increase in DHEA and 59% increase in DHEAS levels (p-trend=0.01 and <0.01, respectively). Smokers of ≥25 cigarettes per day had 35% higher androstenedione and 44% higher testosterone levels than never smokers (p-value, F-test=0.03 and 0.01, respectively). No significant associations were observed for height or time since menopause with any androgen. Testosterone and free testosterone levels were approximately 30% lower among women with a hysterectomy vs. without (both p-values<0.01). Overall breast cancer risk was not associated with any of the androgens. Thus, several risk factors, including body size, alcohol intake, smoking, and hysterectomy, were related to androgen levels among postmenopausal women, while others, including height and time since menopause, were not. Future studies are needed to clarify further which lifestyle factors modulate androgen levels.
doi:10.1002/ijc.24709
PMCID: PMC2875384  PMID: 19569181
androgens; endogenous hormones; cancer risk factors; epidemiology
25.  Effects of Long-term Administration of the Antiaging Hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate on Rat Prostates and Testes as Androgen-Dependent Organs 
Korean Journal of Urology  2013;54(3):199-203.
Purpose
This study aimed to determine the effects of the long-term use of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) on rat prostates and testes as well as on serum testosterone and DHEAS levels.
Materials and Methods
Thirty male rats aged 4 to 5 months were studied. A DHEAS suspension of 5 mg/kg per rat was administered orally to the 15 rats in the experimental group 5 times a week, whereas saline was administered concurrently to the 15 rats in the control group. Intracardiac blood samples were drawn to determine hormone levels, and histological samples of prostate and testes were evaluated under light microscopy.
Results
At the end of the 6-month study period, histological examinations performed on prostate preparations showed that the atrophy score of the experimental group was significantly lower than the scores of the sham and control groups (p<0.001 and p<0.001, respectively). The serum total testosterone and DHEAS levels of the rats in the study group were significantly increased (p<0.001).
Conclusions
In our study, we determined that the long-term use of DHEAS does not have any detrimental effects on the prostate or the testis; on the contrary, it protects the prostate from atrophy, which is imperative for the continuation of fertility as well as for increasing serum testosterone and DHEAS levels.
doi:10.4111/kju.2013.54.3.199
PMCID: PMC3604575  PMID: 23524493
Aging; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Prostate; Testis

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